Festive Season Anxiety: Your Survival Guide

anxiety coping skills depression festive season festive season anxiety intentional living planner Dec 18, 2020

We are fully immersed in the Festive Season right now. Your festive season anxiety may be sky-rocketing. No matter where in the world you are, no doubt there are Christmas trees up, carols playing and children counting down the days…Here is your Festive Season Anxiety Survival Guide.

Festive Seasons Can Be Un-Festive

As a psychologist I have been struck by how very un-festive this season can be for so many people. It is, in many ways, such a difficult time of year. Family that is missing (through loss or immigration) is so much more apparent. Financial difficulties are more evident. Conflict in families escalate – especially when couples have hidden behind work and time apart to keep their difficulties at bay.

festive season un-festive

Those struggling with anxiety and depression feel the pressure to perform. Perhaps it means more social engagements or hosting Christmas at your house this year. So many of my clients experience enormous self-doubt and self-judgment around this time of year.

Aside from your own unrelenting standards, it can feel really difficult to muster the energy that is required to match the merriness of the season.

5 Strategies To Reduce The Stress This Festive Season

Now because I am in the business of supporting those who are ready to take back their power and participate fully in their lives, I thought it befitting to discuss some clever little strategies to help you survive the festive season.

Not just help you survive it… but to thrive through it. And get some much needed rejuvenation so you are ready to rock into 2021!

Get Intentional

Always, always I will lead with this. Because intentional living is really at the heart of making the most of your time and your energy. When you have a clearer vision of what you would like to achieve and embody, then it easier to let the rest go. Hold on to what matters and lose the rest of the expectations you unnecessarily put on yourself.

So take a little time out and create a vision for what you the next few weeks to look like. Are you staying home, or going away? Perhaps you are hosting a Christmas feast or attending one? Maybe you are avoiding celebrations altogether?

Think about your plans and visualise what you would like to get out of the next few weeks – perhaps you want to re-connect with family? Or perhaps you would like to just focus on your own self-care? What is important for you right now?

Get super clear on what your intentions for yourself and your family are.

Thinking this through and creating a clear intention for how you would like to spend this holiday will set you up to create a festive season that works for you and creates lasting memories. 

Grab the festive season planner below and use the journal prompts to get you on your way.

Plan Ahead

This time of year has the potential to be exceptionally busy. When you are already lacking in emotional resources, it can feel exceptionally taxing.

Look ahead at the next few weeks and be sure to plan in some time just for you. Sure we need to be connecting with family, eating festive foods and enjoying merriment together, but we also need to be taking care of our own personal needs.

Plan ahead and ensure that you have dedicated some time for self-care and meeting your own needs and not just everyone else’s.

self care for anxiety festive season survival guide

Know Thine Triggers

The festive season can be a tricky time for many people. If you find this time of year difficult – now is the time to get clear on what triggers you.

Perhaps you struggle with seasonal affective disorder? Maybe you have lost a loved one and miss them this time of year? Some people are recovering from addictions and the festive season is a particularly difficult time of year to be managing their recovery. The influx of people and expectations to host family can send most people experiencing anxiety right over the edge.

Whatever the reason, knowing what triggers you in advance will allow you to create some cushioning around potentially difficult situations. Call in for support where you need to and be compassionately kind to yourself as much as possible. 

Use the festive season planning template to map out these triggers and some potential safeguards to make things easier for you.

Practice Presence

It is easy to feel swept away with the spending of money, buying Christmas presents and prepping a festive feast (if that’s how you celebrate). Stress always increases over this time of year for most of us.

The business can leave you feeling lie a bit of a headless chicken. If you are heading on holiday then there is planning and packing to do. If you’re staying home, perhaps you have family visiting. Then there is the pandemic and the direct and indirect effects thereof.

Fact is, friend, you need a break as much as the next person. And often the only way we get that is by knuckling down and getting present.

Being all here in the current moment every now and then helps to reduce the stress of all the things overwhelming you.

Grab yourself 5-10 minutes in the morning before everyone else wakes up and practice being present in the moment. Enjoy your hot drink and take in the beauty of your Christmas Tree (if you have one) or other festive season decorations. Sometimes we are so busy putting it all up that we never stop to truly notice what we have created.

Bake. Bake with the kids, or grab some time alone and whip something delicious up. Simply choc chip cookies are a treat, but if you’re up for fancier baking – go ahead. And as you do, take in the smells and joy that comes with this therapeutic task.

Find some cuddles. Take moments to cuddle in with your kids (if you have them) or partner and truly soak in the moments. If living alone, soak in some cuddle time on the coach with your favourite hot drink and a blanket – give yourself a cuddle. These moments held the release of Oxytocin (the feel good hormone) and everyone can do with a dose of that sometimes.

Notice the moments when things feel still or content for you. Perhaps they are few and far between, but they are there, friend. Notice them. Be still and present in those moments – the more you notice them, the more you begin to realise that they truly exist for you.

festive season

Practice Lenience and Compassion

Your house does not have to be spotless, your tree does not have to be perfectly decorated. Your kids do not have to be on point well behaved and you do not have to have a sunny disposition all day every day.

Things will go wrong, Christmas dinners get burnt, kids act out and our anxiety gets the better of us.

Knowing this ahead of time and practicing lenience on your own expectations will help you address yourself and the situation with compassion.

Self-Compassion is often the antidote to emotional distress. Make sure you give yourself a healthy helping this Festive Season.